Universal Children’s Day was started by the United Nations in 1954 with the ultimate goal of promoting togetherness among children and awareness of what youngsters in certain parts of the world are forced to endure on a daily basis. Promoted and coordinated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Universal Children’s Day falls on November 20th each year.
Improving the health and welfare of children around the world is one of the key objectives of this important day, which is why it is a good opportunity to learn more about childhood flu, and how it can prevented.
Spotting the signs of flu
Flu (or influenza) can be a very unpleasant illness that can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- A dry cough
- A fever
- A blocked nasal passage
- Aching muscles and joints
- Extreme lethargy
- A sore throat
- A dry cough
While the majority of healthy children will gradually get better through sleep and good hydration, some children will develop complications, which can include bronchitis, an ear infection and pneumonia.
Can flu be prevented?
Particularly in children, flu is very hard to prevent, as it is an airborne illness that can also be spread by direct contact with others. The flu is spread through tiny droplets of mucus, which can get into the air through coughs and sneezes.
Unfortunately, the virus can be spread through indirect contact too. An example of this would be an infected child sneezing onto their hand, and then touching an object (perhaps a TV remote control or door handle) without washing their hands. The next person to use that object is likely to pick up the virus on their hands – and contract the flu virus after touching their nose, mouth or eyes. The chances of flu being contracted by children can be reduced by stopping them from touching their nose and eyes – but this is practically impossible where young children are concerned.
While a healthy diet and good hygiene practices can slow down the spread of flu, preventing a child from contracting this potentially deadly virus is very difficult if it is present in the immediate environment. This is why the child flu vaccine is now being administered to very young children in the UK as a matter of course.
Which children are particularly susceptible to flu?
Children who have certain health conditions are at a heightened risk of developing complications related to the flu virus. For instance, children with asthma, deficient immune systems, heart conditions and learning disabilities face an increased risk of developing serious complications if they contract flu. There are also dangers associated with children contracting the virus, which is why flu vaccination is recommended for younger children.
What is the flu vaccine for children?
A flu vaccination is the most effective way to prevent a child from contracting the virus. The vaccine introduces a little of the virus into the body, which stimulates the production of antibodies – protecting the child from future infections.
Before having the vaccination, a child is assessed by a paediatric nurse. The child’s health on the day is monitored, and their entire medical history is scrutinised. If the child is deemed not well enough, there is a chance that the vaccination will be postponed until a later date.
The Portland Hospital offers the flu vaccine via both a nasal spray and an injection. The nasal spray is a weakened form of the vaccine that is sprayed inside both nostrils. However, children under the age of two are not suitable for the spray – they must be given the flu vaccine via an intramuscular injection.
A doctor will advise parents on the best way to administer the flu vaccine based on the child’s age, as well as any underlying health issues. Children who have certain long-term illnesses might be given annual flu vaccinations as a matter of course.
Universal Children’s Day is all about promoting the welfare and health of children, including tackling the global flu epidemic that is afflicting the world’s youth. As flu in children is a potentially dangerous illness, prevention over treatment is usually the best course of action.
Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by The Portland Hospital – the only private hospital in the UK dedicated exclusively to the care of women and children. For more information, please visit – www.theportlandhospital.com